CoCoRaHS HeaderFlorida Newsletter / September 2011 
In This Issue
To 10,000 ft and Back Again
Random Act of Kindness
Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee
August Rains
August CoCoRaHS Totals
Current State of the Drought
Odds and Ends
Quick Facts

1,130 Registered FL Observers  


483 Active FL Observers

12,044 FL Reports Submitted during 8/11


 Greatest # of Daily Reports Submitted during August: 421 on 8/10/11


Most Rainfall Reported during August: 5.66" Rainfall  on 8/10/11 from Station FL-HB-27

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Back To School

Over the last few weeks, some of us have had to change our routines, getting up earlier to wake up children in order to get them fed, cleaned up and headed off to school before the ringing of the first bell.  Those school bells marked the unofficial end of summer, much to the chagrin of many kids.  With the start of the school year, we welcome back some of our observers!  Across the state, plastic 4" rain gauges dot the landscape of some elementary, middle, high and private schools.  Our local teachers have taken it upon themselves to become part of the program over the last 4 years.  This summer alone saw the addition of at least 15 more teachers signing up to join our ranks, and some of the teachers are using the CoCoRaHS program as part of their math and science curriculum. 

Welcome Aboard and Welcome Back!


Random Act of Kindness

A local 8th grade teacher signed up this summer and was looking for a way to get a rain gauge.  Like most teachers, Cameron would have to pay for the rain gauge in order to use it as part of the program... but luck and an act of kindness were on Cameron's side.  Enter Judy, who lost her husband, James, earlier this year.  James was an avid CoCoRaHS observer and, according to Judy, loved his weather station and being part of the program.  Knowing that Cameron needed a gauge, Judy packed up James's gauge and helped install it on the grounds of the school.  The rain gauge stands now as a memorial to James and has already grabbed the attention of Cameron's students.  
Memorial Rain Gauge

Class photo

Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee

Hurricane Irene was the first hurricane to make U.S. landfall since Hurricane Ike in 2008.  Irene made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane near Cape Lookout, NC, on the morning of August 27.  The storm carved a path of destruction up the East Coast, impacting major metropolitan areas and millions of people.  In the days prior to the landfall, I had friends in the Mid-Atlantic area asking me what they could do to prepare.  "Cash, gas, food, water and batteries" was my quick response to them.  Most of them asked, "How can you deal with this every year," to which I laughed and said, "It's a part of life when you live in Florida."  

The totals from our fellow CoCoRaHS observers in the Northeast are pretty impressive.  One observer in North Carolina reported 14.27" from August 27-29. Some of the daily comments made by observers during the event are informative, others are entertaining, and some are sobering. 

Tropical Storm Lee made landfall in the early morning hours of September 4 near Lafayette, LA, bringing much needed rain to portions of the Southeast U.S. -- although some of the hardest hit drought areas didn't see more than a few passing showers, while places like Chattanoga, TN, (where I spent my Labor Day weekend) broke the record 24-hour rainfall total that was set back in 1886. 

We are currently in the peak of hurricane season, which will last until mid-October.  If you haven't prepared yet, now would be a good time.


August Rains

Rainfall totals varied greatly across the state during August (Table 2). In the north, monthly totals at Pensacola (2.27 inches) and Tallahassee (2.03 inches) were more than four and five inches below normal, respectively. It was the driest August on record at Tallahassee. In contrast, monthly totals in central and southern areas were generally above normal. Miami and Key West observed rainfall of more than 11 inches during the month. In addition, monthly totals at West Palm Beach and Vero Beach exceeded eleven inches, also. The monthly total at Key West was more than five inches above normal. Five daily rainfall records were broken. A total of 1.84 inches at Daytona Beach on the 1st broke a record in existence since 1944. Also, a daily total of 3.78 inches at Vero Beach on the 16th broke a record in existence since 1947. Areal patterns of monthly rainfall relative to normal are depicted in Figure 1.
Table 1: August precipitation totals and departures from normal (inches) for selected cities.
Precipitation Totals 
Table 2. Daily rainfall records (inches) tied or broken during August. (Compiled from NOAA, NWS.)
Rainfall records 

Figure 1: A graphical depiction of the monthly rainfall departure from normal (inches) for August (courtesy of NOAA, NWS)

rainfall graphic

August CoCoRaHS Totals

Here are the CoCoRaHS rainfall totals for August from some select CoCoRaHS stations across the state.
Rainfall totalls


Current State of the Drought

Some portions of the state saw vast improvement in their drought conditions, while others stayed pretty much the same since the last newsletter. Thanks to the above average rainfall in most of the southern part of the state, the severe and extreme drought in south Florida has been downgraded. Although, Lake Okeechobee is still well below normal and the water restrictions still remain in place. Even with the below normal precipitation in the northern part of the state, some areas around the Big Bend and Emerald Coast saw a reduction in their drought classification. Almost 70% of the state is in some form of drought, which is down from 89% at the beginning of August.


The National Drought Monitor is updated weekly, so you can always check the most recent conditions here:,SE.


Drought Monitor


Odds and Ends

Each week, an expert from FSU is answering a question related to environmental issues that impact Florida as part of WFSU's new "Environmental Minute" radio program. Archives are posted at  


The CoCoRaHS State Climate Series is wrapping up, with only the Northeast left. These are great informative pieces that have been put together by a climatologist in each state, highlighting and summarizing the climate of their state. Make sure to check out the archive for more information about some of your favorite states.


Only 3 of our 12,044 observations for August were flagged via our quality control efforts. Thank you for taking that extra minute as you enter your report. Please remember: if you receive an email from me with the subject line 'Question About Your Recent CoCoRaHS Observation', please take a moment to answer me back. And if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


You can now 'Like' Florida CoCoRaHS on Facebook! By joining our Facebook page, the latest Florida CoCoRaHS news items will automatically show up in your "news feed" when you first login to Facebook. To join, click the "Find us on Facebook" link in the menu bar of this email, then click the "like" button on our Facebook page.

Thank You! 
Thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm! If at any time you have questions about CoCoRaHS, reading your rain gauge, or finding a location to setup your rain gauge, please feel to contact a Florida CoCoRaHS Coordinator. We are lucky enough to have regional support from National Weather Service offices across the state, as well as county/local help from several CoCoRaHS volunteers.


Griffin Photo

Melissa Griffin

Florida CoCoRaHS State Coordinator

Assistant State Climatologist

Florida Climate Center/Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies

Florida State University

232 R.M. Johnson Building

Tallahassee, FL 32306-2840

(850) 644-0719